St. Thomas COVID-19 assessment centre open for patients referred by doctor, health unit

A COVID-19 assessment centre has opened up in St. Thomas, Ont. for area patients who have been referred for testing by the local health unit, Southwestern Public Health, or their own primary care physician.

The new assessment centre, located at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH), will be open at least four hours a day, seven days a week, but not for walk-in visits, the hospital said in a statement Wednesday.

“Patients who arrive at the Assessment Centre without a referral and appointment will be instructed to follow-up with their primary care provider or public health for an assessment,” the statement said.

That differs from London’s two COVID-19 assessment centres, located at Oakridge Arena and Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre, which both allow walk-ins.

“We want to make sure that there’s that initial screening that is done — either through self-screening and then have a care provider do some initial workup — and then if it merits a further assessment, along with the COVID testing itself, they’re referred and an appointment is made” said STEGH CEO, Robert Biron, in an interview Wednesday with 980 CFPL’s Jess Brady.

Patients who are referred will undergo an assessment and swab test, and will be told to self-isolate as they await their results, the hospital says.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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